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Cover of The Star Witness

The comedy legend’s first novel charts a TV soap star’s descent into disgrace and his attempts to recover his dignity

Kevin Carver is a household name, a popular TV soap star.

He’s coasting through life in the same semi-detached, slightly smug way he’s always done, when he makes the first in a series of mistakes. One poor decision leads to another and things go from bad to very much worse. The national treasure finds himself the subject of vitriolic press attacks and a police investigation, and so much public loathing he begins to wonder if he has any chance of receiving justice.

That probably sounds quite dark, which it is. But in the hands of a comic master like Andy Hamilton, it is also consistently hilarious. As the story of one self-regarding man’s journey back to joining the human race it keeps the reader guessing to the very last page. But its also a pin-sharp satire on the shallows of modern media culture and the dysfunctional relationship we all have with the idea of ‘celebrity’.

Helping to fund The Star Witness gets you a ringside seat as a master craftsman pulls all the threads of his story together. And your name in the back. Better still, there are chances to join Andy for an evening of gossip above a pub, to attend a swanky Unbound launch party (also probably above a pub), or even have him to crash one of your own dinner parties - check out the pledge options opposite.

Andy is comedy scriptwriter and performer. He regularly appears on QI and Have I Got News For You. His writing credits include Outnumbered, Drop the Dead Donkey, Not The Nine O'Clock News, Trevor's World of Sport, What We Did On Our Holiday and many others. He plays Satan in the Radio 4 comedy Old Harry’s Game that he also writes.

1
The Mistake

If you know me at all, you will know me as a liar.

That is almost certainly the perception you will have of me. There is absolutely nothing I can do about that. I lied, that is public knowledge. But the lying is only one small part of my story – a story that needs telling, if only so I can come to understand it better myself. So I’m going to present myself to you warts and all, or as my friend Mac describes me, 95% warts. And I’m going to tell the story as I lived it, in the here and now, stumbling from moment to moment, mostly with my heart in my mouth and with very few opportunities for perspective.

So, where to begin? With my character? Maybe. Maybe I should start in my childhood, or the rapids of adolescence, but there was nothing exceptional about my upbringing; so I think that this story begins more recently, at a critical choice, at a tipping point.

It begins with a fork.

I am sitting in a restaurant with a beautiful young woman with impossibly blue eyes and there is a forkful of lamb suspended in mid-air a few inches from my mouth. And that’s where it will stay. I can see myself now, a frozen frame, the first bad decision. I should have kept eating, it was just a crass remark, I should have let it go. If only I had let it go.

She is waiting for a response to her latest observation, but I could ignore it, God knows I’ve ignored all the others. She’s already come out with several potential fork-stoppers. Almost as soon as we arrived – as the head waiter led us to our ‘special guest table’ – she hit me with the first one.

“Irony is dead,” she announced, flicking her hair back out of her eyes. “That’s what my mate Keir says, he says audiences aren’t interested in ideas any more, they want emotions, he’s doing an article about it – ‘Sincerity Is The New Irony’.”

I let that one go.

I’d known many beautiful women who talked rubbish; having to listen to them was the price you had to pay.

And so I had let her babble on. There was the occasional diner, I noticed, who was staring at us, but that was normal.

All through the evening, she kept them coming. As we finished our miniscule entrées, she had told me that fashion was basically just literature written in clothing. I waved that one through. When she had said that if Sophocles were alive today he would be writing for Hollyoaks, again, I gave no response – not the barest flicker.

But slowly, as the meal wore on, something deep, deep down inside me had begun to recoil. I had been listening to this kind of drivel for months now, trying not to wince whenever she expressed an opinion. So why the hell was I still seeing her?

At one level, the answer was simple. She was stunning. Also, she was 24 and I was 52, so do the maths. My ego – fairly swollen to begin with – had grown to the size of a cathedral because this beautiful young woman found me attractive, even though I was old enough to be her considerably older brother. But our conversations had become... well, I knew that my passivity was demeaning and that was making me angry, I suppose, deep down. Looking back, I see that now. But, at the time, I think I told myself – heigh-ho, she was what she was. We were what we were. So, the evening would probably have passed without incident if she hadn’t finally come out with an absolute belter; she looks up from her plate and says: “Of course, many people feel that the blacks in South Africa were better off under apartheid.”

That’s the one.

The one that stops the fork.

Read more...

Full steam ahead

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Many, many thanks to all of you who have been pledging. Sorry I've been a bit quiet, but first we had the Black Hole of Christmas, and then we went to Costa Rica for a couple of weeks to look at birds with extraordinary plumage and ridiculous beaks and try not to tread on any scorpions or beautiful but lethal snakes. 

It's great to have the book fully funded now. Sadly, we've now reached the limit…

Ch-ch-ch-changes

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Travelling round the UK with a show about change, I have noticed a few changes as I go. 

1. Most British medium-sized towns are now composed of two parts. A dilapidated High Street consisting mostly of charity shops, and the gleaming mall full of shoppers drinking coffee from global outlets who pay no tax. Hard to see how High Streets can survive, apart from as heritage sites or sets for dystopian…

Andy on Tour

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Sorry if I've been slow responding to enquiries about The Star Witness, but I've been touring the UK with my one-man show, Change Management - remaining shows Sunday 15th November in Harpenden, Wednesday 18th Exeter, Thursday 19th Portsmouth, Wednesday 25th Margate, Thursday 26th Reading, and Saturday 28th Blackheath.



The show is a comic look at social change over the last 60 years, and during…

Duncan Lumsden
Duncan Lumsden asked:

How much to play the lead in the inevitable flick/tv serial?*

*(shed access incl.)

Andy Hamilton
Andy Hamilton replied:

Sadly, that lead part has already been promised to Meryl Streep, who is already working on the voice and the gait. Sorry to disappoint.

Dave Overall
Dave Overall asked:

Hi Andy,
The "Evening of Showbiz Gossip" sounds interesting, does it also include a copy of the book? Thanks in advance for your reply!

Andy Hamilton
Andy Hamilton replied:

Yes it does, a signed hardback.

Karen Ind
Karen Ind asked:

What counts as striking distance of SW London?

Andy Hamilton
Andy Hamilton replied:

Ideally, anything within an hour and a half's travelling time from Wimbledon or two hours if it's somewhere very pretty.

Laurence Simpson
Laurence Simpson asked:

Love your humour. Will gladly chip in. Especially if you help make this one famous. (It is SO up your street!) www.laurencesimpson.com http://www.amazon.co.uk/According-Daily-Mail-audacious-newspapers-ebook/dp/B013V7CFEW/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&qid=1440407555&sr=8-8&keywords=daily+mail

Andy Hamilton
Andy Hamilton replied:

Thanks very much. Your book looks great - we're ordering a copy now.

Felicity Hansen
Felicity Hansen asked:

Where's the shed and what's in it?

Andy Hamilton
Andy Hamilton replied:

You're in it. Can you tidy it up for me, please?

Simon Dicketts
Simon Dicketts asked:

Caversham Heights is massively pretty. Its prettiness remains undimmed, even by being a suburb of Reading, but definitely on the posh (Oxfordshire) side. A mere 1hr 10 minutes from Clapham Junction (Waterloo line). We don't do many dinner parties but would love to make an exception for you. Might we qualify?

Andy Hamilton
Andy Hamilton replied:

Yes, you do. Thank you very much. I'll look forward to seeing Cavendish Heights, which sounds like the setting for an American soap opera.

Xavier Comas
Xavier Comas asked:

Hi Andy. I am director of a creative studio devoted to book cover design. I like your the story in your book and would love to do the cover for you. How about this. We create the cover now so you can use it to promote the book and only pay the design fee after you have reached 100% funding. What do you think?
You can see our work here:
http://www.coverkitchen.com

Best wishes
Xavier

Unbound
Unbound replied:

Hi Xavier,

Thanks for getting in touch. We have an art director that we use for our covers, but if you'd like to get in touch with us via unbound.co.uk/support then we can pass this on to our production team.

Best wishes,

Caitlin - Community & Events Manager

Tanawat Wongwiwat
Tanawat Wongwiwat asked:

Well I have made the leap... very much looking forward to meeting and feeding you sir. I have been a huge fan of your work since my mother forced me to listen to Radio 4 many moons ago. Pleased that you are so close to meeting your pledge target.

Andy Hamilton
Andy Hamilton replied:

Many thanks. Sorry your Mum forced you to listen to Radio 4. I hope that didn't leave too many scars. I look forward to meeting you.

Anthony Hatherall
Anthony Hatherall asked:

Hi Andy

I feel I must ask if there is any bad language or sex scenes in The Star Witness.

If not is it to late for a rewrite

In anticipation
Tony

Andy Hamilton
Andy Hamilton replied:

There is some bad language - the grammar's a bit ropey, and some of the spelling might be off. Sex does occur in the story, but not in the pages of the book. I'll try and squeeze in some gratuitous sexual act with an exotic mammal.

L Mitchell
L Mitchell asked:

Dear Mr Hamilton, ( formal as we haven't been introduce ) so pleased with your news that your book is fully funded. Does that money allow you T shirts and coffee in the budget? Always a worry I think.
All the best,
Lynda Mitchell

Andy Hamilton
Andy Hamilton replied:

Dear Madam,

Thanks for your support. I've no idea whether any of the money will extend to T shirts and coffee - always a bad combination in my experience. I reckon it'll all go on book production and marketing.

Yours faithfully,

Andrew

Rob Peaker
Rob Peaker asked:

You seem like a very decent bloke; I like you and you make me laugh. Jerry Sadowitz seems like a decent sort (if a bit wild) and I like him and he makes me laugh. Of course, you (and MrS) could be thoroughly obnoxious, but I doubt it. You may be obnoxious, but be supremely talented at appearing nice? Whatever. In order to enjoy any comedian I have to like them. I can't laugh at or with folk I don't like. How about you?

Andy Hamilton
Andy Hamilton replied:

I don't think your theory quite holds water. I find myself laughing a lot at Jeffrey Archer, Russell Crowe, Andrew Castle, Garth Crooks and Alan Titchmarsh. So you don't have to like someone to laugh at them.

Celina Dunlop
Celina Dunlop asked:

Dear Author
Congratulations on funding the book and proving wrong everyone who's ever said it's impossible to give more than 100%. Is it too early/presumptuous to pitch for a dinner invasion on February 4th? Would central, and not bad looking if the light's right, London be okay for you? Very best, yours hopefully.

Andy Hamilton
Andy Hamilton replied:

Dear Celina,
Sorry to be slow, but we've been in a jungle with no internet access for a couple of weeks. Yes, it is a little bit early, but as it happens I am free on Feb 4th. So yes, I could make it. You have got in just under the wire, as we've now reached the limit on the dinner party invasions. We'll get someone from Unbound to contact you to firm up the arrangements. All the very best,
Andy

Heather Griffiths
Heather Griffiths asked:

I've ignored Satans advice about never meeting your heroes, and have pledged for the evening of showbiz gossip. I'm as excited as Scumsborne awaiting your return to Hell. When will the date be announced? Can't wait!

Andy Hamilton
Andy Hamilton replied:

Hello Heather. Thank you very much for your pledge. The date's not been decided yet, but I'm guessing it'll be near the publication date, late September. We'll obviously keep you posted, and I'll look forward to meeting you. I may even bring Scummy with me.

Kieran Moore
Kieran Moore asked:

HI Andy, I'd like to pledge £500 and invite you to talk at our venue - Would we be able to charge £10 for 50 people, and recoup the fee? This isn't a money making exercise, it's for fun! We did a similar event with Brian Blessed in June last year (excerpt on my Soundcloud).

If so, I'll happily pledge.

kieranmoore at hotmail co uk

+44 505 492 539 / +44 1380 830675

Many thanks

Andy Hamilton
Andy Hamilton replied:

Dear Kieran,
I'm afraid we've reached our limit on the dinner parties - but there's still space in the Evening of Showbiz Gossip category. I don't know if that's of interest to you. We haven't decided where that will be yet - we were thinking along the lines of a room over a pub - but would your venue be suitable for that?
All the very best,
Andy

Philip Pinnell
Philip Pinnell asked:

Andy,
I'm pleased (but probably not as pleased as you) to see you are now 114% funded (maybe more by now).
Will your e-book be issued before any more trees are felled to produce the printed versions?
I am planning my reading and wonder whether I will need to order another book from Kindle.

Best Wishes
Philip

Unbound
Unbound replied:

Hi Philip,

Thanks for getting in touch. We create the ebooks at the same time as the physical books, so you might need to have some reading extra material while you wait. Please look out for updates on the book's progress.

Best wishes,

Caitlin - Community & Events Manager

Sarah Coakley
Sarah Coakley asked:

Being currently inbetween houseboats as it were, and thus in a precarious position on Swan Island in the middle of the Thames, a short boat ride from yourself in the green lands of Wimbledon, I am concerned that my secret speakeasy should be discovered and thus be abused by all and sundry. As such, I might request that you would only gain access to our illicit gin palace by use of a password of sorts (this can be pre-arranged, but maybe I could suggest the famous Arabic scholar of mathematics - I think you know the one. Nudge nudge, wink wink, say no more, say no more). We cannot send boat for collection, but you will be free to sail away late in the night or morning with a pre-booked carriage of your choosing. All that I ask is that you would accept £1,000 of our humble money (cheap at half the price), and ask no questions as to the type or class of people you may expect to find in said den of iniquity and abandon. Should you agree to our conditions, I would be happy to reveal further details. Currently unable to receive email, as otherwise detained by more pressing concerns - like falling in the water - (is there a joke in their somewhere, I ask myself?). Perhaps the rendezvous could be arranged when the weather is more clementine and you are at your leisure and in the mood to carouse and talk freely and libate to your heart's content. You may bring a friend, we will not eat you both..... (well, possibly just yourself). I feel I have said too much, but not enough. Tell me if you are interested and how I may contact you further into the year, when not so tied up in ropes. Much love and anticipation, Andy - you are fab. A fan, an admirer, and hopefully, a future friend. Sarah x

Andy Hamilton
Andy Hamilton replied:

Dear Sarah,
I'm afraid we've reached the limit on the dinner party invasion offer: however, there's still the Evening of Showbiz Gosip if that's of interest. That'll be later in the year, at a speakeasy yet to be announced.
All the very best,
Andy

John Dowie
John Dowie asked:

Andy - who so slow to join the party? Make a reasonable pledge and I'll forgive you for saying "Hallo Jasper" to me at the Paris studios. Hmm. Maybe I won't.

Andy Hamilton
Andy Hamilton replied:

Did I really mistake you for Jasper Carrott? That does sound like the kind of thing I would do. But if it's any comfort, some drunks on a train once mis-identified me as Dr Harold Shipman. Look forward to seeing the book.

Jane Bryan
Jane Bryan asked:

Hi Andy
Any word on the date for the launch? Need to get to London from Wiltshire and things are booking up! Will be great to see you after so many years. Do you remember dinner after Devizes book festival with our friends the sponsors? Looking forward to the book. Thanks.

Unbound
Unbound replied:

Hi Jane,

Thanks for getting in touch. We sent out invites for the party this week so please check your inbox and spam folders. It will have come from myself, so please search by my name. If you can't find it please get in touch via support@unbound.com and I'll send you the invite again.

Best wishes,

Caitlin

Community & Events Manager

Jane Teather
Jane Teather asked:

We have not received invites either, though we pledged the amount that should have qualified us. Is it too late now?
Jane Teather and John Henderson

Unbound
Unbound replied:

Hi Jane,

I'll send the invite through to you again. It's definitely not too late.

Best wishes,

Caitlin - Community & Events Manager

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